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Mac Users: Smart Or Smug?

Last week, I heard an interesting Marketplace Radio segment about Mac users: "A new marketing study has found Mac owners tend to think they're more extraordinary than the average Joe. They're also more likely than PC users to whiten their teeth, drive hybrids, drink Starbucks coffee, and eat organic food."
Last week, I heard an interesting Marketplace Radio segment about Mac users: "A new marketing study has found Mac owners tend to think they're more extraordinary than the average Joe. They're also more likely than PC users to whiten their teeth, drive hybrids, drink Starbucks coffee, and eat organic food."Now clearly, studies like this don't mean to imply that all Mac users are as annoyingly smug as the one in the Mac-vs-PC commercial. Windows users aren't as emotionally insecure and clueless as the Mac commercials make them out to be, either. I don't whiten my teeth and prefer plain coffee to that over-roasted Starbucks, but I do drive a hybrid Prius and happen to like organic produce. So I guess by their measure I'm halfway to Mac ownership.

Moving to a Mac isn't the same as moving into Utopia. My wife uses a Mac as her main computer and she's glad she switched, but she's realistic. It's still a computer, and it is far from perfect. It has an occasional tendency to hang when shutting down, and sharing its printer with PCs on the network required plenty of work with cryptic configuration files and commands gleaned from Google searches. I do think its overall user interface is more consistent and more reliable than Windows.

One Mac benefit is also a drawback: lack of diversity. In the PC world, you can mix and match lots of different hardware and software. Mac users get a much smaller selection. It's a good selection, to be sure, but it's also on the pricey side, and nowhere near the variety found on PCs. Sometimes, PC users pay the price for that diversity in a case of "too many cooks spoil the broth." Underpowered hardware, crapware, and inconsistent user interfaces are all symptoms that result when there's not a single "benevolent dictator" making reasonable decisions.

My point is that the Mac world is a collection of trade-offs, just like the Windows world. For some Mac users, those trade-offs may not be relevant or they've rationalized the problems away. If you are a Mac user and it's working great for you, then congratulations. Just realize that other users may have other needs; the old "buy a Mac" refrain is easier said than done in a complex work environment that depends on many custom Windows applications. So don't act so smug.